How To Treat Heat Exhaustion
Warmer temperatures and the blooming of summer mean one thing for fitness and nature lovers. Outdoor exercise and hiking. While these activities come with countless benefits, they can also put you at risk of heat exhaustion.
Heat exhaustion is a heat-related illness that occurs when the body is exposed to high temperatures. It is often accompanied by dehydration and prevents your body from regulating its internal temperature.
Untreated, it leads to heat stroke, a more serious and potentially life-threatening condition.
Heat exhaustion can affect anyone performing physical activity in a hot environment, especially in high humidity conditions.
In these circumstances, the air humidity prevents your body from cooling down despite sweating. As a response, your body will sweat more. This will lead to dehydration and loss of necessary salts while you’ll still be hot. And the result is heat exhaustion.
Symptoms include dizziness, excessive sweating, nausea, headaches, muscular weakness or cramps, vomiting, and sometimes irritated or aggressive behavior among others. Despite suffering from heat exhaustion, you may even feel cold due to the body’s inability to regulate its temperature anymore.
It is necessary, therefore, to know how to treat heat exhaustion and prevent it from progressing. Here are 10 essential tips to follow.
1. Seek A Cool, Shaded Area
If you’re in a hot environment and suddenly start feeling any awkward symptoms, move to a cool, shaded area as quickly as possible. It is essential to move out of the sun even if you can’t get indoors.
For instance, you should seek shelter under a tree if heat exhaustion strikes when you’re hiking or camping.
2. Lay On Your Back
Overheat – thus heat exhaustion – causes your blood vessels to expand. Combined with gravity, it causes your body fluids to move to your legs. That’s why your legs and feet tend to swallow when you’re walking too much on a hot day.
But when you’re dealing with a heat-related illness that keeps you dehydrated and deprived of important electrolytes, it is essential to get those fluids back where they belong, namely to your brain and heart.
Laying on your back with your legs and feet slightly raised will enhance blood flow and will help regularize your blood pressure.
3. Remove Any Tight Clothes
Tight clothes will not only keep you warmer than necessary; they may also constrict blood flow. If you’re in a hot environment and feel unwell, take off any tight clothes immediately. If possible, take off most of your clothes to let the air around you lower your body temperature. Otherwise, put on a loose shirt and shorts, preferably made from cotton or other breathable materials.
4. Take A Cool Bath
Whether you’re indoors or near a river, lake, or sea, regularize your body temperature with a cool bath.
Splash some cold water from your water bottle on your body before immersing yourself completely, to prevent a shock. Then enjoy the cool stream for at least five to ten minutes.
If you don’t like cold water, you can achieve the same effect by taking a shower with lukewarm water.
5. Drink Coconut Water
Coconut water is one of those miraculous treatments for heat stroke and heat exhaustion. As weird as it may seem, this liquid has a composition similar to human blood plasma and rich content of electrolytes, above all potassium.
Because it’s the potassium-sodium balance to run your heart and every other muscle in your body, it is essential to keep their levels optimal during heat exhaustion.
Since coconut water has four times more potassium than a banana, it helps keep you hydrated and normalizes the levels of electrolytes in your blood, preventing brain and heart damage.
6. Eat Some Plums
Another miraculous fruit is the plum. Plums are rich in antioxidants and vitamins that help keep your body hydrated. They also have anti-inflammatory properties, and may even help you calm down.
According to holistic medicine, you should soak plums in water, smash them, strain them, and drink the juice. However, you can speed things up by turning plums into a smoothie if you’re near a blender or eating them directly if you’re away from home.
7. Place A Wet Towel On Your Chest
A simple way to lower your body temperature is by placing a wet cooling towel on your chest and forehead.
Just lay on your back, take off your T-shirt, and cool yourself down with a cloth soaked in cold water.
8. Get Cool With Ice Packs
Ice packs are another simple remedy. You should place them under your arms, behind your neck, and in the groin area.
Because in these areas there are many large blood vessels lying close to the skin surface, the ice packs will help you cool down faster.
9. Avoid Alcohol And Caffeine
One thing to avoid when you’re starting to feel the first symptoms of heat exhaustion is consuming alcohol or caffeine. Both substances cause dehydration by increasing diuresis, but there are many other mechanisms involved that will worsen your condition.
Alcohol, for instance, causes peripheral vasodilatation which promotes heat gain through your skin. It may also lead to impaired judgment, preventing you from adopting the necessary cooling measures.
Caffeine is a stimulant that can increase your metabolic rate, thus determining your body to generate more heat.
While staying away from alcohol is easy, you should pay attention if you want to hydrate yourself with energy or sports drinks. Many of these contain caffeine, so make sure the substance is not present in any drink you want to consume during a heat exhaustion episode.
10. Have Carrot Soup
Carrot soup can help you combat muscular cramps associated with heat exhaustion. Carrots are rich in magnesium and calcium, two electrolytes that regulate muscular contraction, so it can reduce cramps and pain.
By reducing muscular aches, it will also help you calm down and deal with irritability and aggression more effectively.
Just make sure you have cold carrot soup to prevent any heat gain from your food. Alternatively, a carrot smoothie can work wonders too.
And remember; if you have tried these 10 tips to treat heat exhaustion but still don’t feel better, call a doctor or head to the ER department as quickly as possible.